Ok, my confidence has been shaken. One of the women who I believe is an incredible mother and all around amazing person made a very valid comment about the way I feel about letting Lilly cry herself to sleep. I kept thinking about it all afternoon and evening until now when I couldn't take it anymore I had to write something. First off this is what she wrote:
"Sorry, but we completely disagree with the idea of letting a baby cry it out for any prolonged period of time. Of course every parent has to do what they have to do, I suppose, but it has been proven time and again that babies cry for a reason, even if you cannot figure out the reason. It had been said that it may cause emotional detachment and a sense of abandonment, especially in newborns/infants. Strongly dislike, we NEVER did this with [our daughter] :("
Then here is what happened... We pickedLilly up from daycare and she grabbed something out of nother little girls hand, which caused the other little girl to fall over and cry! I thought OH GOD! my daughter is a bully! Mel was right! We shouldn't have let her cry it out! Lilly might feel like we have abandoned her. We may have ruined her life. She isn't going to grow up to be a well adjusted adult after all...
But then I thought back to the time that we let Lilly cry it out. A time where I could feel my hair turning gray. A time where I cried a lot too. We just didn't know what to do. So I thought about it. We allowed Lilly to cry without comforting her for a total of five hours before she began to fall asleep on her own. It sounds like a long time, but those 5 hours were spread out over 4 days. Just to be fair I'll tack two hours on to that to add up any other time we may not have been able to go to her right away. And we didn't just let her cry all day long. Every other time of day that she cried we would run to her and rock her and hold her. Could these seven hours have ruined her life? Did these seven hours make her feel abandoned? Does she not like us? Is this why she throws tantrums sometimes?
Maybe. But I really think she throws tantrums because she is a toddler and we told her she can't run around holding a pen, or that she shouldn't rub the bluray disc back and forth on the brick hearth.
I'm pretty sure she does love us because she lights up when we walk into a room (an incredible feeling). She runs to us and hugs us and kisses us almost as much as we hug and kiss her. Her life doesn't seem ruined. But is this one of those things where the effects won't begin to surface until she is older?
Every night before, during, and after we let her "cry it out" I would bathe her, feed her, rock her and read her a story. I was trying to get her into the routine and spend some quality mommy and Lilly time together. Now, for our own personal reasons, I was only able to take two weeks off of work. I had just had a C-section that I did not want to have- wich by the way is kind of like major surgery- I was in a lot of pain and I was tired. Lilly would scream all night long and then I would go to work. I am beginning to cry right now just remember how truly awful this time was...
I remember walking around the house holding her, bouncing with her, rocking her, feeding her, and just feeling really sad that she was soooo unhappy. I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted the house to be clean. I just wanted to take a shower.
Andy and I both began feeling really angry and screaming at one another. Both of us just needed sleep. We both had to go to work the next day. We didn't know what to do. We were both angry zombies and we got to the point where we just couldn't do it anymore. The first night that we let her "cry it out" was less a conscience decision to let her "cry it out", more out of necessity of needing to get at least 3 hours sleep instead of just the one or two and to distance ourselves briefly from the source of our anger and frustration. The second night we thought hey we will do this just one more night. and then she cried for less time and we thought maybe she will cry for less time tomorrow! And what do you know? It worked. Within a few weeks we had managed to catch up on sleep and begin to truly enjoy being the parents of the best little girl in the world.
I am glad to hear my friends opinion. I may not have gotten so upset over all this had Lilly not taken that book away form the other child at daycare. I am glad that not everyone does things this way. Every child and situation is different and we don't love Lilly any less. Maybe when and if we have another child this will not be the right way to handle things. I feel better now having written this. I wrote it more for myself. I was feeling like I need justification. But I don't really. This is my opinion and this is how we decided raise Lilly and that is our choice. I do think that this works. In most cases I would say you should wait to let them cry it out until they are older (the child in the original scenario was six months old), but we were desperate.